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Browns become second team in NFL history to finish 0-16

Published: Sunday, December 31, 2018 @ 4:06 PM
Updated: Sunday, December 31, 2018 @ 4:43 PM


            PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 31: DeShone Kizer #7 of the Cleveland Browns attempts a pass in the third quarter during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on December 31, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 31: DeShone Kizer #7 of the Cleveland Browns attempts a pass in the third quarter during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on December 31, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Browns joined the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams in NFL history to go 0-16 when they failed to find a way to beat the backup-laden Pittsburgh Steelers in a 28-24 loss on Sunday.

Cleveland had a chance late in the fourth quarter, but quarterback DeShone Kizer’s fourth-down pass to Corey Coleman bounced off Coleman’s hands and fell incomplete.

And for the 16th time in 2017, the Browns walked off the field searching for answers that are as elusive now as they’ve been at any point since the franchise’s return to the NFL nearly two decades ago. Head coach Hue Jackson is expected to return despite a 1-31 record and the Browns have two of the top four picks in the 2018 draft.

Kizer finished with 314 yards passing and two touchdowns to Rashard Higgins but also threw a fourth-quarter pick, his NFL-leading 22nd of the season.

The AFC North champion Steelers (13-3) sat stars Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell among others but it hardly mattered. Landry Jones completed 23 of 27 passes for 239 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster caught nine passes for 143 yards and a score. He also returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown.

Pittsburgh sacked Kizer six times, boosting its season total to 56, a franchise record.

Nearly four months removed from a taut 21-18 loss to Pittsburgh in the season opener — a game that seemed to indicate the Browns were ready to take a significant step forward in Jackson’s second year — Cleveland walked onto frigid Heinz Field still looking for its first win in 372 days.

The wait will continue for another eight months following three hours that symbolized Cleveland’s historically miserable season.

While there were bouts of competency, including a pair of takeaways by the defense and long Kizer hookups to Higgins and Josh Gordon, the Browns simply could not get out of their own way. Twice in the first half they drew third-down defensive penalties that extended Pittsburgh drives. Three times in the fourth quarter they had the ball and a chance to go ahead.

The first two ended with turnovers, giving Cleveland an NFL-high 41 on the season. The third ended with Kizer somehow escaping pressure on fourth down at the Pittsburgh 27 only to have his pass clank off Coleman’s hands and fall to the frozen turf, one last missed opportunity in a year filled with far too many.

While Jackson, who will jump in Lake Erie at some point in the near future to fulfill his vow the Browns wouldn’t go 1-15 as they did in 2016, is expected back in 2018, another offseason filled with searching awaits.

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Cincinnati Reds: Riggleman wants ‘more’ out of bullpen

Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 8:07 PM


            ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 21: Jared Hughes #48 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh inning at Busch Stadium on April 21, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 21: Jared Hughes #48 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh inning at Busch Stadium on April 21, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Jared Hughes definitely planned to pitch to contact when he entered the Reds game against Atlanta on Tuesday in the 10th inning with a runner on first base and one out.

It just didn’t go as he hoped. Hughes plunked Kurt Suzuki with a pitch to push the go-ahead run into scoring position before escaping with a groundout and a called third strike. He pitched through allowing a hit in each of the next two innings to keep the Braves at bay and open the door for Scooter Gennett’s walkoff, two-run home run in Cincinnati’s 9-7 win.

»RELATED: Peraza more comfortable, confident at short

“I hit the first guy,” the right-hander said after the game. “I was trying to throw my best pitch, the sidearm sinker. I missed badly, but made the adjustment. I was trying to make contact, but not with the batter.”

The affable Hughes, 32, earned his first win in three decisions since signing a two-year contract with a club option for 2020 on Dec. 26. He had performed mostly as expected. Tuesday’s performance lowered his earned-run average to 2.13, and the only real glitch on his resume was giving up a go-ahead home run to Yadier Molina after the Reds had come back from a 3-0 deficit to forge a 3-3 tie in a 4-3 loss at St. Louis on April 21.

Hughes’ outing on Tuesday was his longest since 2016, when he carded a single-game career high three innings for the second time. He now has reached 2 2-3 innings four times in his career.

“I don’t know if I could have gone another inning,” he admitted.

Interim manager Jim Riggleman appreciated Hughes’ bullpen-saving effort, but he suggested before Wednesday’s game that it might not be the last time Reds relievers spend more time than what’s become normal on the mound.

“What Jared did (Tuesday night), that used to be fairly routine,” Riggleman said. “I know it’s not routine any more. I knew it takes him out of his comfort level, but he’s a veteran. Even though he’s not comfortable, he still can pitch. If someone is a little uncomfortable, they say I can’t pitch. I know (Goose) Gossage and some of those guys were a little uncomfortable some days but went out and gave them three innings. I know that it’s the regular season, and we don’t ask guys to do what they did in the postseason, but I do think we can ask a little more. We asked more of Jared (Tuesday night).

“I think we can raise the bar a little bit for what we can get out of guys. This thing about 65 innings for a reliever and that’s enough – you wish that’s all you needed because your starters are going that far. I think we can get a lot more out of them. We don’t want to get anybody hurt, but to me, it looks like they get hurt anyway.”

Rehab updates: Third baseman Eugenio Suarez went 0-for-3 in Triple-A Louisville’s game against Charlotte on Tuesday in the second game of his rehab appearance. Suarez, on the disabled list since April 9 with a right thumb fracture, went 1-for-2 with a double and two walks in on Monday.

Right-hander David Hernandez, sidelined all season with right shoulder inflammation, allowed one hit and had one strikeout while throwing 15 pitches during an inning of work for the Bats in the third appearance of his rehab assignment and his second in less than 24 hours. He gave up two hits and a run with a strikeout while throwing 17 pitches in one inning on Monday.

Quackenbush clears: Right-handed pitcher Kevin Quackenbush, who was designated for assignment when Cincinnati activated right-hander Kevin Schackelford from the disabled list on Tuesday, cleared waivers and was assigned outright to Louisville.

Heading out: The Reds leave after Thursday’s 12:35 game game for the season’s first interleague matchup, a three-game weekend series at Minnesota. Right-hander Homer Bailey will try for his first win of 2018 in his sixth start in Thursday’s series and home stand finale.

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Area football players, coaches on combined South Divisions IV-VII team

Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 6:30 PM


            Brookville’s Bailey Wallen surpassed 2,000 yards rushing as a senior last season. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
Brookville’s Bailey Wallen surpassed 2,000 yards rushing as a senior last season. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

The 73rd annual Ohio North vs. South All-Star Classic Football Games will be held on Saturday at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon.

The combined Divisions IV-VII game kicks off the day at noon, followed by the combined Divisions I-III game at 4 p.m.

The games are sponsored by the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association. Miamisburg High School coach Steve Channell once again will serve as the games director.

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The following are area members of the combined South Divisions IV-VII team: DJ Chambers, Carlisle; Thomas Schweiterman, Coldwater; Tommy Peaco, Northridge; Bailey Wallen, Brookville; Luke Richardson, Clinton-Massie; head coach Whit Parks, formerly of Fort Loramie; and assistant coach Steve Poff, Middletown Madison.

The annual Miami Valley Football Coaches Association North vs. South football all-star game will be held at 7 p.m., Friday, June 8 at Centerville High School. Those head coaches are Northmont’s Tony Broering (North) and Marcus Colvin of Chaminade Julienne (South).

Those rosters will be announced next month.

The entire OHSFCA South Divisions IV-VII team:

Head coach: Whit Parks, formerly of Fort Loramie.

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Assistant coaches: Steve Poff, Middletown Madison; Matt Edwards, John Glenn; Mike Flanery, River; Evan Ferguson, Coal Grove; Jason Peters, Grandview.

QB: Lucas Isaly, River; Justin Heacock, John Glenn.

RB: DJ Chambers, Carlisle; Daniel Bangura, Harvest Prep; Kendrick Cunningham, Fairland; Shane Bonner, John Glenn.

WR: Xavier Johnson, Cin. Summit Country Day; Adam Wieczorek, Cin. Madeira; Mancini Jackson, Cin. Reading; Casey Smith, John Glenn.

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TE: James Lachey, Grandview.

OL: Thomas Schweiterman, Coldwater; Colin Woodside, Fairfield Union; Connor O’Brien, Cin. Wyoming; Alijah Demitras, Steubenville; Tommy Peaco, Northridge; Vince Oliver, Steubenville Central Catholic.

»RELATED: Lamb resigns at Lebanon

DL: Reed Aller, St. Mary’s Memorial; Quinton Moore, Steubenville; Drew Dietz, River; Jeb Jones, Dawson-Bryant; Isaiah Mullens, harvest Prep Brandon Spaulding, Grandview.

LB: Xander Carmichael, Wheelersburg; Rran Wood, Cin. Ready; Bailey Wallen, Brookville; Tyler Long, Cin. Hughes.

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DB: Lorenzo Sparks, Cin. North College Hill; Luke Richardson, Clinton-Massie; Isaac Gill, Philo; Jon Argesta, Steubenville; Miles Smith, Cin. Wyoming; Tim Williams-Scrog, Cin. Aiken; Skylar Durbin, Danville; Miller Kronk, London.

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Dayton adds fourth member to 2018 recruiting class

Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 4:27 PM

Michigan's Ibi Watson, right, drives in the lane on Marquette's Traci Carter during the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden on November 17, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images
Michigan's Ibi Watson, right, drives in the lane on Marquette's Traci Carter during the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden on November 17, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)(Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The Dayton Flyers landed their fourth recruit in the 2018 class on Wednesday, announcing Michigan transfer Ibi Watson, a 6-foot-5 guard/forward, will join the program.

Watson, a graduate of Pickerington Central who attended Athens High School for his first two years, appeared in 45 games over the last two seasons with Michigan, receiving limited minutes each season. He averaged 2.2 points and 0.8 rebounds in 5.2 minutes per game last season. He scored two points in one minute in the national championship game loss to Villanova.

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Watson will have to sit out the 2018-19 season. He has two seasons of eligibility remaining after that.

“First and foremost, you’re adding a veteran to your roster,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “Ibi’s had two years at Michigan and obviously the success they’ve enjoyed — the two Sweet 16s and national championship game appearance — that experience for him, being able to be a part of that on a daily basis, I think he adds a level of experience to our roster, not only when he becomes eligible but during this time that he gets to be a redshirt and continue to work on his personal development. I think it’ll be a great addition to our team for some of our younger guys to have a veteran like that on your roster.”

» UPDATE: What the Dayton roster looks like now

Watson announced his decision to transfer on April 12.

“During my time at the University Michigan I have learned and experienced so much,” he wrote on Twitter. “I enjoyed the relationships and memories that I made. Thank you to the coaching staff and my teammates for making my experience so great! After much thought, I have decided to explore other options.”

Watson was a three-star recruit in the class of 2016. He ranked 208th in the class, according to 247Sports.com. He made the All-Ohio first team as a senior in 2016.

Watson joins Dwayne Cohill, Jhery Matos and Frankie Policelli in Dayton’s 2018 class. The Flyers still have three scholarships open.

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Ohio State NFL draft preview: 5 things to know 

Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 4:45 PM

Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward explains what he can bring an NFL team, why he sat out the Cotton Bowl and more.

The 83rd NFL draft is set for Thursday-Saturday in Texas, and Ohio State is expected to be heavily involved again. 

Here are five things for Buckeye fans to know before it begins: 

1. Close to a dozen Buckeyes could be drafted. 

Eleven Ohio State players were invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, and more got to work out for NFL scouts during the team’s pro day.

Land of 10’s Scott Dochterman predicts Jerome Baker, J.T. Barrett, Marcus Baugh, Jalyn Holmes, Sam Hubbard, Jamarco Jones, Tyquan Lewis, Billy Price, Denzel Ward, Damon Webb and Chris Worley will all hear their names called by the end of round seven on Saturday. 

Ward and coach Urban Meyer are scheduled to be in attendance.

2. The top prospects are… 

Ward is widely expected to be a first-round pick. 

After him, it gets a little murky. 

Hubbard could be taken in the first or second round and Price was considered a potential first-rounder before a pec injury knocked him out of the combine (he should be ready for the start of training camp). 

Jones is the No. 34 player according to Pro Football Focus with Price coming in 64th, Hubbard 68th, Lewis 81st and Webb 88th. 

Ohio State center Billy Price explains what happened during the bench press Thursday and his prognosis for next season.

3. The return of OSU as “DB U”. 

If Ward does go in the first round, Ohio State will become the first school in the common era (since 1967) to have five first-round defensive backs in three years. 

That run started with Eli Apple in 2016 with Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker and Gareon Conley following last year. 

The last five starting cornerbacks from Ohio State have been drafted, something that also happened in the late 1990s and early 2000s. 

Ward could make six. 

4. Will any Buckeyes remain in Ohio? 

Recent history shows the Bengals and Browns aren’t very likely to pick a player from Ohio State. 

While Cincinnati last chose a Buckeye in 2013 (offensive lineman Reid Fragel, seventh round), eight drafts have passed since the Browns chose Brian Robiskie in the second round in 2009. 

In all, the Browns have drafted 32 players from Ohio State since 1952 while the Bengals have taken 17 since 1969. 

Ohio State quarterback JT Barrett explains what he has been doing since the NFL Scouting Combine, how his workout in Cincinnati went and more.

5. Meyer’s first full recruiting class nearly finished. 

Six players from Ohio State’s class of 2013 already have been drafted. 

At least five more could be taken this weekend. If that happens, the 24-man class will be the most successful (in terms of draftees) since 2002, both in terms of total and percentage. 

Twelve players of 25 signees (48 percent) from 2002 were drafted. 

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